On November 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 925, the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (NAWCA), on a bipartisan suspension vote.
Introduced by Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC) member Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), H.R. 925 will authorize $60 million annually through Fiscal Year 2024 to conduct on-the-ground wetland conservation projects across North America. Prior to House passage, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee as well as sent an alert to CSC members in the House urging them to vote in favor of H.R. 925. The alert also included a letter signed by CSF and 26 other sporting-conservation organizations who were in support of this important wetlands conservation bill.
Enacted in 1989, NAWCA helps support the conservation efforts of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan by providing financial resources to carry out wetland conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This program helps improve critical habitat for waterfowl, other fish and wildlife, and will enhance flood mitigation while improving air and water quality, among many other positive conservation benefits. NAWCA projects are completed on a voluntary basis and consist of a diversity of partners including state fish and wildlife agencies, willing private landowners, businesses, and non-government conservation organizations, among others.
"The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation would like to thank Congressman Thompson and the House of Representatives for prioritizing this critically important bill," said CSF President Jeff Crane. "Now in its 30th year, NAWCA has completed nearly 3,000 on-the-ground conservation projects while conserving more than 29.8 million acres in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. This program will continue to play a substantial role in restoring this crucial habitat."
NAWCA requires that for every federal dollar contributed to the program, a non-federal source must equally match the federal contribution. However, the program is often matched at a rate of $3 of non-federal money for every $1 of federal money, a sign that conservation groups, including sportsmen and women, are willing to play a vital role in conservation funding, which makes this program one of the most cost effective conservation programs that our nation's federal and state fish and wildlife managers wield.
To date, NAWCA has received over $1.6 billion in federal funds while being leveraged with more than $3.37 billion in non-federal funds and continues to provide a significant return on investment that ultimately supports an average of 7,500 jobs and more than $5 billion in associated annual economic activity.
H.R. 925 now awaits further action in the U.S. Senate.
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